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Choler adust congeals our blood with fear, Then black bulls toss us, and black devils tear. In sanguine airy dreams aloft we bound; With rheums oppress’d, we sink in rivers drown'd.
More I could say, but thus conclude my theme, The dominating humour makes the dream. Cato was in his time accounted wise, And he condemns them all for empty lies. * Take my advice, and when we fly to ground, With laxatives preserve your body sound, And purge the peccant humours that abound. I should be loth to lay you on a bier ; And though there lives no 'pothecary near, I dare for once prescribe for
your disease, And save long bills, and a damn’d doctor's fees.
Two sovereign herbs, which I by practice know, And both at hand, (for in our yard they grow,) On peril of my soul shall rid you wholly Of yellow choler, and of melancholy: You must both purge and vomit; but obey, And for the love of heaven make no delay. Since hot and dry in your complexion join, Beware the sun when in a vernal sign; For when he mounts exalted in the Ram, If then he finds your body in a flame, Replete with choler, I dare lay a groat, A tertian ague is at least your lot. Perhaps a fever (which the Gods forefend) May bring your youth to some untimely end : And therefore, sir, as you desire to live, A day or two before your laxative,
Among the distiches ascribed to Cato, we do in fact find one to that purpose :
Somnia ne cures. Lib. ii. distich 32.
Take just three worms, nor under nor above,
Madam, quoth he, gramercy for your care,
Believe me, madam, morning dreams foreshow
Two friends or brothers, with devout intent,
Cicero, who tells both the following stories in his treatise De Divinationé, lib. i. cap. 27. Chaucer has reversed their order, and added many picturesque circumstances.
And that so little it would hold but one,
So were they forced to part; one staid behind,
His fellow, who the narrow bed had kept, Was weary, and without a rocker slept : Supine he snored ; but in the dead of night, He dreamt his friend appear'd before his sight, Who, with a ghastly look and doleful cry, Said, Help me, brother, or this night I die : Arise, and help, before all help be vain, Or in an ox's stall I shall be slain.
Rouzed from his rest, he waken'd in a start, Shivering with horror, and with aching heart ; At length to cure himself by reason tries ; 'Twas but a dream, and what are dreams but lies ? So thinking changed his side, and closed his eyes. His dream returns; his friend appears again : The murderers come, now help, or I am slain :'Twas but a vision still, and visions are but vain.
He dreamt the third ; but now his friend appear'd Pale, naked, pierced with wounds, with blood be
Then shew'd his grisly wounds; and last he drew A piteous sigh, and took a long adieu.
The frighted friend arose by break of day, And found the stall where late his fellow lay. Then of his impious host inquiring more, Was answerd that his guest was gone before : Muttering he went, said he, by morning light, And much complain'd of his ill rest by night. This raised suspicion in the pilgrim's mind ; Because all hosts are of an evil kind, And oft to share the spoil with robbers join'd. His dream confirm’d his thought; with troubled
look Straight to the western gate his way he took ; There, as his dream foretold, a cart he found, That carried compost forth to dung the ground. This when the pilgrim saw, he stretch'd his throat, And cried out murder with a yelling note. My murder'd fellow in this cart lies dead; Vengeance and justice on the villain's head! You, magistrates, who sacred laws dispense, On you I call to punish this offence.
The word thus given, within a little space, The mob came roaring out, and throng'd the place. All in a trice they cat the cart to the
ground, And in the dung the murder'd body found; Though breathless, warm, and reeking from the
may pass unpunish'd for a time,
Fresh from the fact, as in the present case.
Here may you see that visions are to dread;
One evening it befel, that looking out, The wind they long had wish'd was come about; Well pleased, they went to rest; and if the gale Till morn continued, both resolved to sail. But as together in a bed they lay, The younger had a dream at break of day. A man, he thought, stood frowning at his side, Who warn’d him for his safety to provide, Nor put to sea, but safe on shore abide. I come, thy genius, to command thy stay; Trust not the winds, for fatal is the day, And death unhoped* attends the wat’ry way.
* Hoped and unhoped, anciently meant only expected and unexpected. Puttenham, in his “ Art of English Poesie,” 1589, mentions the Tanner of Tamworth, who, in his broad dialect, said to King Edward, upon discovering his rank, and remember. ing the familiarities he had used with him while in disguise, “ I hope I shall be hanged to-morrow,” for “I
fear me I shall be hang. ed.” The use of the verb hope, was therefore limited to its present sense, even in Queen Elizabeth's time. But Dryden, in translating an old poet, used some latitude in employing ancient language.